The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission's unfortunate cancellation of two public hearings in St. Cloud, Minn., on Enbridge's proposed Line 3 Replacement Project denied the public a vital opportunity to provide input on a deeply important agency decision.

The Minnesota Department of Commerce's finding that Line 3 is not needed only confirmed what many already knew: Tar sands pipelines are inherently dangerous and increasingly unnecessary ("'Better off' without Line 3," Sept. 12). Enbridge spilled more than 1 million gallons of tar sands crude into the Kalamazoo River in 2010. That cleanup has now cost more than $1 billion.

One million gallons is a fraction of what Enbridge would be transporting every day through the expanded capacity in a new Line 3.

Make no mistake, this proposal is a pipeline expansion. It would ultimately increase Line 3's capacity by 370,000 barrels per day - more than 15 times what Enbridge recklessly spilled into the Kalamazoo River. An expanded Line 3 could lead to a catastrophic spill of heavy crude onto tribal lands, small farms, and public lands - while refineries in other states reap the limited economic benefits.

Enbridge's proposed Line 3 replacement is controversial for good reason. Planning for the St. Cloud hearings should have anticipated heavy attendance and the possibility of protests.

But the bottom line is that Line 3 is not needed - and any line replacing it would present a constant threat to the environment and to public health.

The old pipeline should be shut down and dismantled, and the PUC should not approve its proposed replacement. In the meantime, the PUC should reschedule the St. Cloud public hearings with proper notice, giving Minnesotans a meaningful opportunity to participate.

Tim Schaefer


The writer is director of Environment Minnesota, a nonprofit advocacy group.